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Teaching Philosophy

Volume 41, Issue 3, September 2018

W. John Koolage, Danielle Clevenger
Pages 261-284
DOI: 10.5840/teachphil201882890

Undergraduate Conferences as High Impact Practices with an Impact on Gender Parity

There has been a recent explosion of undergraduate philosophy conferences across the United States. In this paper, we explore undergraduate conferences along three lines. First, we argue that, as a well-designed learning activity, undergraduate conferences can serve to increase gender parity in philosophical spaces—a widely accepted and important goal for our discipline. Second, we argue that this increase in parity (and other beneficial learning outcomes) is due, at least in part, to the proper design of undergraduate conferences as High-Impact Practices. Our empirical work on our own undergraduate conference demonstrates that properly designing the conference as a High-Impact learning activity does, as expected, benefit underserved student populations, including women. Additionally, the study also revealed unexpected opportunities to intervene on student learning. Third, we argue, also in line with our data, that undergraduate conferences occupy a previously taxonomically unrecognized grouping (Culminating Events) among recognized High-Impact Practices.